Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bad news on human development
As we could well expect with the ravages of AIDS and poverty in SA, we have been steadily slipping on the United Nations' Human Development Index, dropping 35 places to 120 out of 177 countries since its inception in 1990. [Report available here, UN HDR website here] The explanation is in the criteria:

"The HDI focuses on three measurable dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. It therefore combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income to allow a broader view of a country's development than does income alone."

From those criteria it's clear to see where South Africa goes wrong. What is still worrying though, is that we have lost so much ground against other nations on the scale. The fact that even Palestine is ahead of South Africa is even more worrying, although I suppose that smaller population countries would score higher on literacy and school enrollment.

Some explanation was offered by UN officials under statistical manipulation by the Apartheid State: "UNDP officials said South Africa's HDI fall was inevitable, taking into account the manipulation of statistics by the apartheid system, which simply ignored millions of residents on the fiction that they were citizens of some notionally independent country."

However, even accounting for the fact that those statistics were poorly crafted, the current statistics must infer that we are actually in a far worse position socio-economically than many would think.

Mbeki's service delivery remains very much in the spotlight...